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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop APPROACHES TO REDUCING THE RISK OF NUCLEAR MULTI-POLARITY Major-General Pavel S. Zolotarev, Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for USA and Canada Studies, Academy of Military Sciences Nuclear weapons non-proliferation has become one of the most important international security issues facing the world since the end of the Cold War. The nuclear arms control system inherited from the Cold War era has turned out to be less adaptable than many other components of the international political system. The overall rules in this crucial area for international security remain virtually unchanged, both at a global and regional level. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is under threat. Some countries seeking to free themselves from the obligations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)330 have withdrawn from it or threaten to do so. It now appears that we are approaching the point at which this erosion of the nuclear non-proliferation regime has become irreversible, setting off a potential avalanche of nuclear weapons proliferation. Without calling into question the current nuclear arms control system as a whole, there is a need to complement it with new elements that take into account changes in the world. Many experts call for the development of a new nuclear arms control concept in general. Recent works that have attracted attention include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security.331 This work’s value lies not only in the practical recommendations it contains but also in that it states clearly that the United States cannot resolve these problems alone. In today’s conditions, only a multilateral nuclear arms control system that unites coordinated international efforts can produce effective results. The United States has always been one of the main initiators of efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, but these initiatives have always stemmed more from the United States’ own priorities and interests rather than from the nuclear weapons proliferation problem itself. When it first developed nuclear weapons, Washington’s initial nuclear policy goal was to maintain its monopoly over these arms. In July 1946, the U.S. Congress passed the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which prohibited the transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, including even to the United Kingdom, whose scientists had made an important contribution to the 330 To read the text of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, see http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc140.pdf; accessed April 6, 2008. 331 George Perkovich, Jessica T. Matthews, Joseph Cirincione, Rose Goettemoeller, and Jon Wolsthal. Universal Compliance (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). Available at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=16593; accessed April 8, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop Manhattan Project that developed the nuclear bomb. Amendments to the law lifting the barriers to U.S. nuclear cooperation with its NATO allies were made only in the mid-1950s.332 When the Soviet Union carried out its first nuclear test on August 29, 1949, ending the U.S. nuclear monopoly, the focus of U.S. nuclear policy shifted to maintaining supremacy over the Soviet Union. The confrontation between the two systems had an impact on nuclear non-proliferation policy, as reflected in double standards on both sides and an indulgent attitude toward other countries’ nuclear ambitions when it suited the goals of nuclear rivalry. Overall, however, the nuclear non-proliferation regime that took shape during this period was relatively effective. China, France, and the United Kingdom all developed their own nuclear deterrent during this period, but none of them could or tried to match the United States and the Soviet Union in numbers and variety of nuclear arms, limiting themselves to ensuring relative autonomy for themselves within a bipolar system of international relations. Other countries found a sense of relative security under the protection of either the Soviet or U.S. nuclear umbrella. The end of the Cold War has not made the task of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation any simpler. Indeed, new problems have arisen. Part of the Soviet strategic nuclear arsenal ended up on the territories of newly independent states (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine), and not all of these countries were willing to renounce the possibility of obtaining nuclear power status. At the same time, some countries decided to use nuclear weapons as a means of establishing themselves as regional leaders, becoming nuclear powers in fact, although not officially recognised as such (India and Pakistan). Prompted by the sole remaining superpower’s use of brute military force, some countries began to consider the expediency of developing nuclear weapons as a means of guaranteeing their security. Iraq had nuclear ambitions, and a complex situation has now arisen regarding the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs. Through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program,333 the United States has made an important contribution to ensuring safe and reliable transport, storage, and destruction of Soviet nuclear weapons in the interests of non-proliferation of these weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union. U.S. aid has stopped these weapons from proliferating, maintained them in safe storage, and has ensured the safe destruction of surplus nuclear arsenals. In the end, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons they inherited from the Soviet Union and joined the NPT as non-nuclear states. Efforts to resolve the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues have seen new approaches emerge. In each case, a group of countries, including Russia and the United States, regional nuclear powers (France and the United Kingdom are in one group and China is in the other) and influential regional powers (Germany is in one group and Japan is in the other) have formed. But this format has proven productive only when the United States stopped letting ideological aims (regime change) guide it and concentrated specifically on nuclear non-proliferation objectives. Although the nuclear arms control system has undergone a certain amount of adaptation to the new situation in the world, not only does nuclear proliferation remain a real threat but there is also real potential for a new nuclear arms race. 332 The U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954 can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr0980/ml022200075-vol1.pdf; accessed April 8, 2008. 333 For further information regarding the Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, see http://www.nti.org/db/nisprofs/russia/forasst/nunn_lug/overview.htm; accessed April 8, 2008.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop Today’s situation is one of nuclear multi-polarity. It is characterised by the existence of several groups of countries: officially recognised nuclear powers: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States nuclear states not officially recognised as such but that openly declare their possession of nuclear weapons: India and Pakistan Israel: a country that does not admit to possessing nuclear weapons countries with nuclear ambitions and the necessary scientific and technological potential to develop nuclear arms: North Korea and Iran so-called ‘latent’ nuclear powers: countries that have the ability to develop nuclear weapons but that refrain from doing so for reasons of political or military inexpediency: Argentina, Brazil, South Korea and others This situation of nuclear multi-polarity creates the following main threats and challenges: perpetuation of the motivations for possessing nuclear weapons possibilities for carrying out ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons the risk that nuclear weapons will be used In this situation, guaranteeing international security requires the creation of a comprehensive system for nuclear arms control and nuclear non-proliferation. Several main objectives emerge in reducing the risks posed by nuclear multi-polarity: reducing the motivations for non-nuclear states to acquire nuclear weapons preventing efforts by countries overtly or tacitly seeking to obtain nuclear weapons to manufacture or acquire such weapons reducing the likelihood that countries possessing nuclear weapons will use them The current nuclear arms control system is focused primarily on only one of these objectives – preventing non-nuclear countries from developing nuclear weapons. This is the objective pursued by the NPT, and so it is entirely natural that most proposals for improving the nuclear control regime remain with the nuclear non-proliferation framework set out by the NPT. Some aspects that have emerged in the nuclear non-proliferation situation today provide a basis for proposals regarding the other two objectives for reducing the risks of nuclear multi-polarity, namely, reducing non-nuclear countries’ motivations for developing nuclear weapons and reducing the likelihood of such weapons actually being used. Coming up with ways to reach these objectives requires first identifying the means for reaching each goal separately. Two main tasks need to be accomplished in order to reduce the motivations of countries to obtain nuclear weapons: non-nuclear states need to be given security guarantees against the possible use of force by countries with overwhelmingly superior military power regional disputes and conflicts need to be settled in such a way as to exclude the need to possess nuclear weapons
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop Work on each of these objectives can be limited to political and diplomatic measures or be complemented with a series of military-technical measures. Examining two examples from the current situation in the world, we can see that military-technical measures are not always needed. North Korea, for example, has used its nuclear program to blackmail the international community with the aim of retaining control by the ruling regime as it undertakes gradual social and political change with economic assistance from other countries. North Korea has no claims to world or regional leadership and does not have aggressive designs that require the possession of nuclear weapons. It appears that guarantees against the use of force to bring about regime change (as in Iraq), combined with economic aid, would be enough to remove the country’s motivations for obtaining nuclear weapons. The positive shift in North Korea’s position since mid-2006 seems to support this argument. As soon as the United States, having learned, perhaps, from the lessons of Iraq, put aside its rhetoric about the need for regime change in North Korea and focused instead on the nuclear non-proliferation issue, North Korea responded immediately by changing its position. Conditions and fulfilment of economic aid commitments became the determining factors in the negotiations. The situation looks today as if real policy with regard to North Korea could remain within political and diplomatic limits and not need be backed by military-technical measures. The situation is different in the case of countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons in order to consolidate regional leadership, restore the balance of power with a hostile state that already has nuclear weapons, or both. Countries driven by these motivations could act by any means, including in violation of international law, International Atomic Energy Agency control, or international sanctions etc., to acquire nuclear weapons or develop their own nuclear fuel cycle technology to a level that would enable them to rapidly manufacture a nuclear weapon if the political situation called for it (thus putting themselves in the group of ‘latent’ nuclear powers). Efforts to reduce these countries’ motivations for obtaining nuclear weapons could require military-technical measures. Of course, the list of possible military-technical measures, including preventive measures, would be different for each specific case, but it is nonetheless expedient to draw up a basic ‘menu’ of these measures and the legal conditions for their use in advance. First of all, the general vector of these measures needs to be defined. The measures concerned should clearly complement political efforts to reduce countries’ motivations for obtaining nuclear weapons. If, for example, there is a nuclear power in the region, any country in the region that is not an ally or partner of the nuclear power should have the following security provisions: full and complete information on the nuclear power’s arsenal and its nuclear weapons use policy timely information on the opponent’s preparations of its nuclear weapons for use the possibility of carrying out a preventive strike using conventional weapons against its opponent’s nuclear weapons the ability to counter a strike using nuclear weapons It is clear that countries face significant difficulty in trying to ensure these security guarantees on their own. In reality, such guarantees can be achieved only if other countries help by offering military-technical possibilities. In this situation, there is a need not only for military-
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop technical measures as a complement to political measures, but also for political measures to complement military-technical measures. At first glance, these discussions appear far removed from reality. It makes sense therefore to look at how they could be applied in practice to a concrete situation. Work is currently underway to examine the prospects for developing a regional missile defense system, in particular in Europe. There are no official agreements as yet, but the system’s general outlines are already emerging. First of all, we need to examine a number of specific points: the increase in the number of ‘latent’ nuclear states continues; missile technology has become more accessible for many countries and, depending on the changing political situation, potential missile and nuclear threats can arise in different parts of the world missile defense systems are effective only if they have the possibility of destroying their targets at various stages of the missiles’ and warheads’ flight trajectories (the active, passive, and final stages of the trajectory) an effective missile defense system cannot be built within just one country because of the unpredictability of potential missile threats and the need to be able to destroy the targets at various stages of the flight trajectory establishing components of a missile defense system outside a country’s own territory requires joint efforts by countries to build the system; failure to ensure cooperation would lead to concern among neighbors of the countries where missile defense components are to be installed that the system could be directed against them building a missile defense system on an international basis requires a command and operation system that would give countries joint use of national information and weapons systems; the system’s command structure would have to enable military units from the participating states to take part in the system’s operation. With regard to existing missile defense and systems, a collective missile defense system would have to include: national missile attack warning systems national missile defense systems such as the S-400, Patriot, and IGIS systems to destroy targets during the active phase of the trajectory ground-based missile defense systems, including radar facilities, to destroy the warheads during the passive phase of the trajectory command facilities enabling the system to function as a collective whole and pool together national information and weapons systems There is probably no sense in including weapons systems to destroy warheads during the final phase of the trajectory in the collective missile defense system, but information coordination between the national and collective missile defense systems will be essential. Only with knowledge of how the collective missile defense system functions can the objective of destroying remaining warheads be reached effectively. Unfortunately, the topic of current discussions and official consultations remain primarily on the radar facilities in the Czech Republic, Gabala, and Armavir, and also on the plans to
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop install missile defense system components in Poland. In reality, it is the Russian president’s proposal to open information exchange centers on national missile attack warning systems in Moscow and Brussels that is of key importance. The Russian-U.S. memorandum on opening a Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow, signed almost 10 years ago, serves as a basis for highlighting several important points. First, the work of the Center is to be open to participation by other countries. Second, the Center’s participants must provide timely warning of upcoming missile and rocket launches (test launches, launches as part of military exercises, for scientific purposes or the launch of satellites etc.). Third, in its initial stage of work, the Center will be equipped with national technical means for displaying information from the missile attack warning systems, but later these national systems will be interlinked. Due to technical specificities, the weapons components of the missile defense systems are effective only when functioning in automatic mode. The shortage of time makes it not possible for human intervention in tracking the target, distributing the means for the target’s destruction, carrying out the launch, and targeting them. Given this, the regional missile defense command point will probably have the following functions: collecting and monitoring information on the state of national weapons systems part of the unified regional missile defense system placing weapons systems in various states of readiness depending on the information coming in from various sources, including from the national missile attack warning systems collection and analysis of information on the status of missions to destroy targets at various stages of the trajectory (for optimum use of all means at the system’s disposal) The weapons systems themselves, so long as they are placed in the appropriate state of readiness in sufficient time, will function in automatic mode. Overall, carrying out the Russian president’s proposal to open data exchange centers in Moscow and Brussels would open the way to creating joint command centers for a European missile defense system. The declared objective of establishing a European missile defense system is to counter a possible missile threat from Iran. The main motivations driving Iran seem to be aspirations for regional leadership and the fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. The fact that Israel does not officially admit to possessing nuclear weapons creates a situation in which it offers no negative guarantees to non-nuclear states and this acts as an added incentive for other countries to obtain nuclear weapons. The world’s major powers have made active efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Iranian nuclear program seems most probably aimed at turning the country into a ‘latent’ nuclear power. It is hard to say how successful the international community’s attempts to prevent Iran from acquiring the technology needed to develop nuclear weapons will be. The possibility of a solution using force cannot be excluded. History shows that this could be an effective option. It is enough to recall the Israeli strike against a nuclear facility in Baghdad, which stalled Iraqi plans to develop a nuclear weapon for many years. But in the case of Iran, such action is fraught with serious consequences not only for the United
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop States but also for regional and global security in general. In this situation, the wisest course of action would be to avoid the use of force. In Iran’s case, the following military-technical measures could be possible: supplying Iran with modern missile and air defense systems offering for Iran to take part in the work of one of the data exchange centers (in Brussels or Moscow) The benefits of helping Iran develop an effective air and missile defense system are clear. For a country planning a military operation, the prospect of high casualties can be enough to dissuade it from carrying out its plans. But there is another clear aspect. Assistance in helping to develop an air and missile defense system should not come without conditions. It should be linked to concrete non-proliferation obligations. Furthermore, in taking on a share of the responsibility for Iran’s security, the international community has the right to assume that this reduces the motivations for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. As for Iran’s potential participation in the work of the data exchange center, this would give it the chance to receive full information on the missile situation within the framework of the existing missile attack warning systems and the agreed procedures for informing on all kinds of upcoming missile launches. Participation in the center’s work would also oblige Iran to provide information on its own planned missile launches. One area in which the data exchange centers’ work can expand in the future is through each of the nuclear weapon states providing information on the main indicators of their nuclear missile potential. This, combined with the eventual transformation of the data exchange centers into command centers for a European missile defense system, would create a predictable situation for all participants in the centers’ work. The resulting ability to more accurately assess the situation would in turn create guarantees against inadequate responses. Participating countries should have the right to withdraw from the centers’ work. But if they do so, their subsequent actions will be scrutinized much more closely and they will be deprived of the information they received through participation in the centers. Such actions cannot be ruled out in the case of escalating conflict between two nuclear states over a desire not to disclose information on the state of their nuclear and missile potential. But a series of measures to prevent the opposed nuclear states from using nuclear weapons should be in place for such cases. Measures aimed at preventing the use of nuclear weapons should take into account some of the specificities of the use of nuclear weapons. The greater the deterrent role of nuclear weapons the more unclear the conditions for their use. In order to prevent conflict from escalating during a period of growing crisis or war fought with conventional weapons, military and political authorities must demonstrate their resolve to use nuclear weapons, but actual preparations for using nuclear weapons need to be carried out covertly. In order to prevent an advance attack by the opponent, a nuclear strike must be sudden and reduce to a minimum the opponent’s ability to carry out a counter strike.
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Future of the Nuclear Security Environment in 2015: Proceedings of a Russian—U.S. Workshop If the nuclear state has no possibilities for ensuring these conditions, the likelihood of its using nuclear weapons will be greatly reduced. Of course, any situation of increasing crisis between countries that include at least one nuclear weapons state will come in for close scrutiny by other countries’ intelligence services. The information gathered can be used to give timely warning to the state against whom a nuclear strike is being prepared that a sudden strike is already impossible. At the same time, other countries’ air and missile defense forces can be concentrated in the area around the conflict zone in order to prevent attempts to launch an attack using nuclear weapons against any of the parties. These measures can all be quite effective so long as the legal base and appropriate agreements are already in place and the structures needed for their implementation have been established. These structures should include: A center for collecting, summarizing and analyzing intelligence information from countries taking part in the measures to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. This center would need to have the authorization to inform the parties to the conflict of plans by one of the parties to launch a sudden advance nuclear strike, in the interests of disrupting such plans. An air and missile defense system based on pooling the resources of national air and missile defense systems of the countries taking part in the efforts to prevent the conflicting parties from using nuclear weapons. Command centers for comprehensive use of all the available methods of destroying the means of delivery of nuclear weapons and nuclear warheads in the event of their use. All of this shows that carrying out military-technical measures aimed at reducing countries’ motivations for obtaining nuclear weapons, and the measures aimed at preventing the use of nuclear weapons, require practically the same kind of command structure and military resources. The conclusion, therefore, is that during their consultations on establishing a European missile defense system, Russia, the United States, and NATO should focus not on neutralizing potential threats to Russia from the American system, but on designing the system for the priority missions of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and preventing the use of nuclear weapons. Traditionally, the United States has never been inclined to share command with anyone else, and this is true also of the elements of the proposed European missile defense system in Europe. But the examples of cases when the United States has laid aside other interests and shown initiative and resolution in addressing nuclear non-proliferation issues give hope for full cooperation on the ultimate goal. As was said, the problem of nuclear arms control in today’s world goes beyond the NPT framework and no matter how great the United States’ efforts to resolve the nuclear non-proliferation issue on its own terms, only a multilateral approach that combines the efforts of different countries will work. We cannot achieve nuclear security unless we address the reasons that incite countries to obtain nuclear weapons and take measures to prevent such weapons from being used. This does not claim to be an exhaustive list of possible approaches, but the proposals it outlines could be of interest for more detailed examination and drawing up concrete proposals and recommendations that could become the subject of talks and negotiations.